THE PATHWAY TO TRUE HAPPINESS

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I have not fully been following news of late. Anyways, I’m not a fan of news that much, as I’d rather be on a message, than be up by early morning listening to news of this and that. However, one headline that has caused a buzz of late (apart from Big Brother Naija) had been the issue of a doctor who fell into a lagoon (or sea, or ocean, in fact, a water body) and killed himself. The issue that caused the matter to baffle many was the fact that this guy was a medical doctor (I mean you need to know that to be a medical doctor is not a day’s job), he had a car of his own (having been more than 5 years now as a graduate, and having seen life, bros, if you see anyone with car, please respect that person, -it is not easy to own a car in life o, even a beetle), he even had a driver! (My God, only God knows the decade I will get a driver in this life), yet he killed himself.

Now, many people have started a “call-a-friend’ revolution, and I thank God for that. However, I want to present another side to the story. Why would he kill himself? He had a well-paying and secure job, he had his own car and driver, I mean, by all the dreams of an average young man, he was successful. I know that many of us look at our lives today and we are sad, unhappy, unfulfilled, discontent, and hoping that one day when we have made money, gotten a well-paying job, graduated from university, bought a car, married the woman of our dreams, and built the house of our dreams, we will be happy. Right now, we seem to understand our unhappiness, it is because we do not have this or that.

May I posit to you my honourable readers that one day all your dreams and aspirations in life will come to pass, and you will look back at it all and will discover that there is still unhappiness in your soul! This is a very scary thought. Do you remember when you were looking for admission into university? Did you not feel that the day you get that admission, your life will be fulfilled? Did you not feel that the reason for your unhappiness in life was because you haven’t gotten admission yet? Then that day came when you got admission! My God! You were exhilarated, fulfilled and happy. However, after some months, in the midst of hustle and bustle of assignments, projects, etc, you forgot all your initial joy, and that same unhappiness settled again in your soul. You were just as unhappy then as you were when you were looking for admission. Then you hoped that one day when you graduate, you will be happy. Months after graduation, you were unhappy again!  ‘I have to go for youth service’; ‘I have to get a good job’. Even when you got a good job, your worries and unhappiness continued.

You have just discovered that an admission into university does not satisfy. You have just discovered that graduating from university does not satisfy. Those who are still in university will never understand. They consider you that have graduated as a lucky person. They imagine how happy you are, and hope to be like you one day. But it is you that is a graduate that knows that it never satisfies. One day, you will have all your dreams- a nice job, nice car, nice house, nice apartment, nice family, nice money, you know everything nice, and then you will discover that it never satisfies. We live in a world where nothing satisfies. The rich man thinks he will be happy with more money, and dreads falling out of the top richest guys. The married woman is tired of marriage and wants to come out. The graduate is wondering why he went to school. A man is earning a million naira monthly as salary, yet he is still living in debt and wishing that his salary was 1.2 million monthly. So, people resort to immorality, alcoholism, cultic activities, religious activities, workaholic attitude, traveling for holidays, etc, in order to find meaning in life. Some even post their latest cars, latest house, latest girlfriend, latest handshake with the president on social media just to evoke some jealousy and ‘wows’ from their friends and enemies, but even that does not satisfy. Where then is satisfaction?

As I think about this, one scripture keeps occurring in my heart- “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” 1 Tim 6 vs. 6-8.

So, permit me to talk about contentment a little. What exactly is contentment? It is not a philosophical outlook on life. It is not the lack of ambition of the sluggard. For us to understand contentment, we have to look at vs. 7- “for we brought nothing into this world”. I asked one of my friends recently, “When you were coming into this world, what did you come with”? And she said “nothing”. I, too, came to the world with nothing. What about you? I came naked, empty-handed. I didn’t bring any clothes to wear, any cash for school fees, any food to eat; I came to the world with empty hands. But look at me today- I have good clothes, I am a graduate, I have been eating assorted dishes since I was born. I wonder if there is a meat I have not eaten. Lol. I even have a bank account (don’t ask me how much is inside).  I teach Mathematics and the Sciences to a group of young people and they sit down for hours to hear me teach. All these things I have accomplished so far, but I didn’t come to the world with any resources for my well-being. I came empty-handed!

So, this is contentment, to know and be assured of the fact that whosoever that has been responsible for my care and well-being through all these long years will also continue to care for me till the end. There is nothing I needed in this life that I came with. All I had on me was my naked and undeveloped person. Whosoever that was responsible for providing for all the resources that brought me thus far, will continue his responsibility of seeing me through life. The day you understand this, you will realize that it is not your responsibility to provide for your needs in life, that there is ‘One’ whose responsibility it is to care for you. Thus, you will enter into a life of contentment.

The challenge is that many of us do not know who that ‘One’ is. We thought it was our parents who took care of us. So, the day we graduated and they told us that they were done with our training; we entered into a rat race. We came under instant pressure. ‘I must make it’ became the running passion of our lives. What we failed to realize was that they were not the main ‘One’ that cared for us. All of our provisions, help, and security we have had these long years had been from Jehovah Jireh- the provider God, and he never retires from that work. You will never reach an age where He will tell you that “I have tried for you, now provide for yourself”. Never! He says He will never leave you nor forsake you. He said he’s with you till the end. So, why are you scared? Why are you under pressure? Why are you depressed and sad? The day you look up and discover that Jehovah is no more on the throne, that He had retired from active duty, then please worry, be depressed, be under pressure, and be confused. Until then, be rest assured that He who brought you thus far is still on His throne. So, don’t fret about money for marriage, a good job, admission, security for tomorrow, etc. for He makes all things beautiful in its time.

Be contented. Rest in the Lord. From Him comes all mercy and grace. Magnify His Name. Even if you did not save some money, fret not, because where money could not take you, grace will. Your Lord has not retired; He will guide you safely to the end. So, stay strong and let noting move you. Having food to eat and cloth to where, be content. He who provides for creation is still in charge. Your Lord and Care-giver sits on the throne

N/B: There is one more thing that must naturally go hand-in-hand with contentment, and that is ‘godliness’. We will discuss this and some practical applications in subsequent posts.

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Francine Rivers

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